GENESEO, Ill. — Facing a Dixon team that starts five seniors, the difference in experience was just too much to handle for a Geneseo team featuring only freshmen, sophomores and juniors.
Dixon’s seniority and lockdown defense helped the second-seeded Dukes (22-7) post a 59-36 win Tuesday over eighth-seeded Geneseo (11-17) in the Class 3A Geneseo Regional semifinal. The Dukes face tonight’s winner of Galesburg and Kewanee in Friday’s regional final.
Tuesday’s game featured both school’s all-time leading scorers, Dixon senior Beau Bailey and Geneseo junior Isaiah Rivera.
Bailey (5-of-10 3s) scored a game-high 23 points on 8-of-15 shooting. Rivera was 6-of-15 from the field and finished with 18 points to lead the Leafs.
Outside of Rivera, Jacob McConnell’s seven points were next-best for the Leafs, who committed 15 turnovers against the Dukes’ press. Dixon turned it over just three times.
“Their defense was really good,” said Geneseo head coach Brad Storm of Dixon, which employed a half-court trap. “Probably one of the better overall we’ve faced in a long time, maybe all year. Just because they are big and athletic and they covered a lot of space and plugged things up for us and exposed some of our weaknesses.”
Rivera, who improved his school’s top single-season mark, finished the season with 787 points. Dixon made things especially tough on him in the paint with additional defenders.
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Rivera scored 10 of Geneseo’s 13 points in the second quarter, helping his team to a deficit of just 27-21 at halftime.
In the third quarter, however, it took nearly five minutes before his first shot attempt, something Storm said comes with a team’s ability to adjust against that kind of defense.
Rivera, who had a temperature of 101 on Tuesday afternoon, shrugged off the minor fever but credited the Dixon defense.
“They did a really good job of just making things hard and taking things away,” said Rivera, who was double and triple-teamed at times. “They didn’t want me having the ball in my hands. They did a real good job doing that and having energy. We tried to match it, but just came up short.”
Geneseo also shot 1-of-10 from deep, while Dixon finished 7-of-21. Dixon’s senior point guard Derian Duncan (12 points) led a physical and uptempo offense for the Dukes, helping to find Bailey for his five triples.
With no graduating seniors, Geneseo is optimistic ahead of its move to the Western Big 6 Conference. Rivera and Storm said the Leafs’ offseason will be key as the team hopes to get stronger.
“I think it was good for us to see a team that had the experience, the skill level, and the mentality that they had,” Storm said, “and that’s what we want to get to for next year.”